I can trust myself?? The story, and the truth

February 25, 2011 § 9 Comments

Hmmm, why don’t I just give you the lesson learned first, and then you can decide if you want to read the story?

Here is the Lesson I learned that I want to share with you: Take your dreams very seriously. If they want to be heard badly enough, they’ll keep coming back around until you’re ready to listen.

Learn to listen.


The story (the one that I repeat in my mind and share with others) goes that T&I were young and we bought into the suburban professional dream – we bought it ALL. The job with insane expectations and hours, the lovely home, cars, sharp clothing and mountain of debt. Along with it came bouts of melancholy and beating back the flames of our financial fires – all the while thinking we were on our way.

Years passed, and in the next chapter we were shocked into awareness by a personal loss and found that all the time, energy, and money we’d spent were misdirected. We learned that life is short – and realized that the dream we had followed was not our own. It was suddenly, shockingly apparent that the lifestyle we’d been pursuing was based on empty things, not on LIVING. We didn’t even know what we wanted, the not-uncommon story goes. I think we did know on some level that we weren’t happy.

And here it is, as I’m following the all-too-familiar arc – I tell myself, “I wish we’d figured it out earlier. I wish it hadn’t taken a loss to make us understand”. I have reconciled myself to this history by saying that it had to happen, we needed to be shaken awake and learn what we DIDN’T want first. These words helped me make sense of what I otherwise would have considered to be lost time.

The difference in the way I’m reading the story today, what I just realized with a sharp CRACK – All this time I’ve been invested in these words, I have been believing that it was this loss, this event, that shook us up and changed our whole trajectory. It’s been easier and more comfortable for me to invest in these words, to believe that we were duped – our priorities were a mess because we fell for the media-driven idea of happiness and success. I’ve been choosing to believe that we didn’t know what we wanted, that *we’ve changed*. When in reality, everything that we are working towards now is something that I can trace back to early discussions and dreams – in detail. I can tell the approximate times, where we lived, and the couch we were sitting on while we talked (long discarded for a nicer one). It took remembering just one to make them all come back in a flood. Creativity, movement, sustainability, travel, service, even writing. They were all there.

We really DID know it, all along. We weren’t ON a different path, we got off track from our own.

(For the record, I think T may have figured this out well before I did. It was a team effort, for sure, but a lesson that I needed to learn individually.)

Here is my sadness:  My heart knew where we were headed, even if she didn’t have exact definitions. I didn’t listen, I didn’t trust myself (Ooof. A valued mentor just told me this just recently and I still didn’t get it.) I discounted all my deepest desires as pipe dreams only – not practical, not realistic, maybe when we retire, I don’t have the strength or emotional stability for that… All bullshit. I betrayed my potential place and purpose for what I thought I was supposed to do, success that I didn’t define on my own terms, and material things that never satisfied. I wasn’t listening, and that makes me RESPONSIBLE.

This realization smarted (oh boy did it), but with a couple days behind me now I know that it isn’t such a big deal. It is a question of perspective only. It doesn’t change anything that happened, it only changes how I view it… Our dreams came back knocking when we were ready to pay them some attention – and now after years of hard work and re-orienting, we have our act together. And if we don’t know exactly where we are headed, we have meaningful direction and are moving forward.

And now that I’ve gotten over the shock of being both wrong and responsible, this, then, is where I find the lovely, mysterious NEW truth that shifts the entire story: I can trust myself. I can trust my HEART. That concept wasn’t only foreign, it had never entered the scope of my awareness – My head planned and rationalized so loudly and with such authority that I’m not sure I realized there was another voice in the mix. Dreams were something my head conjured up for fun, a diversion from it’s “real” work. Now, this realization of what my heart knew and my head had to learn from hard experience brings them into agreement – a partnership even – and I feel whole for a moment. For now, there is no contradiction here. My head has learned to respect my heart. And with this new truth, I may be better able to trust the nudges of my intuition in the future.

§ 9 Responses to I can trust myself?? The story, and the truth

  • Heloise says:

    I so get it.

  • Rachel says:

    ‘Our dreams came back knocking when we were ready to pay them some attention’…perhaps I’m wrong (probably) but it seems like this is key. I wonder if you weren’t actually sidetracked off of some set path…but rather the path you took was necessary to get you to where you are today and where you are planning on going in the future. Maybe a decade ago these were your dreams but you weren’t ready emotionally or physically or financially to follow those dreams…now you are. A decade ago you may not have had the knowledge, the experience, the tools to follow those dreams…now you do.

    Similar to what I wrote on another post …I think life and its challenges constantly shape and mold who we are and what we want out of life…and our dreams. All of these things are constantly evolving…I believe our choices affect the path we take, but I also firmly believe that it works the other way as well…the paths we take affects our choices.

    This probably sounds like I’m disagreeing with you…but I don’t think I am…it’s all about acceptance and trust in the end isn’t it?

    • Mel says:

      Yes! That’s exactly what it’s about.

      And you are right, it is all interrelated, we are always evolving – I loved your original comment and thoughts on this. I do still think there is some truth to that misguided path being necessary – all the things we were subjected to along the way that wouldn’t have happened if we’d we’d made “better” choices – they have absolutely shaped who we are. It is comforting to think that we may be more effective in whatever we do from here because of this experience. I can hope. I think I just had never given myself credit for being who I was in the first place. I think I associated the path we were on with who I was. I had to change… I had to figure it out…. Whatever. I am still who I am underneath it all and that was a shocker to me. And you just helped me plug in one more tiny piece of that puzzle. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth says:

    How wonderful that you remembered the earlier moments so that your head could have that epiphany.

    “My head has learned to respect my heart.” This. I want to be here someday.

  • Heather says:

    This thinking has been weighing heavily on me lately (not in a bad way, though). One of the blogs I was led to through some of your emailed links last week says this: “If you look at what you love to do–what you loved, especially when you were very young–you’ll probably get a clear picture of your incarnational purpose.” OK, I’m not at the level of seeking my incarnational purpose, but like you, I have to ask, how many times do the dreams have to come back before I pay attention? A few months ago, I was hanging out with a friend, someone that was new in my life and didn’t know me very well, who said, Maybe you need to think about what you enjoyed doing when you were younger. I keep coming back to that statement, and it’s so interesting to hear you talking about this, too (and how many people need to say it before I heed it?). Also – I wanted to say that whoever you have been while covering up this version of you, the true version of you, I have always seen this you coming through, and sometimes I’m even surprised to hear you talk about your struggles, because I’ve always seen this person.

    [Link to quote above: http://hiroboga.com/blog/become-your-own-business-adviser-2/making-things-happen-alignment/%5D

    • Mel says:

      Thank you Heather. It’s always after I have a realization like this and it’s settled in that I wonder why in the world it was such a BIG DEAL and caused so much upheaval in my mind. I think sometimes that this is just how I have to process (because this has been completely cyclical for me – I don’t know how this works for others). I realize I’m wrong about something, get shaken up & upset, understand the awesomeness of the (usually super simple) truth, and then move on and feel a little ridiculous about the whole thing! I appreciate you being a witness to all this – and your words.

      I’m thinking back to a book I had picked up last Spring, Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft, and it seems to me like that was a theme there as well on finding the things you loved when you were young, though I couldn’t really get my head around it at the time… I think I started to get it when we talked about movement and dance and how those themes are present for me now in my practice, even though I’m not technically dancing… I think your friend’s is wise and I’m so happy for you to see you thinking more and more about this & taking some steps.

      Thanks for that link to Hiro’s post, I read her occasionally but hadn’t seen that one, and it fits in so nicely with the reading and paper I just put together on the Bhagavad Gita!

  • […] especially what you think may come of it are details that will only distract you from your hard-won heart-wisdom. The only certainty is the answer to this question of passion and purpose is circumstantial and it […]

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